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Thursday, 27 June 1946

Mr MCEWEN (Indi) .- I do not propose to enter- into a screaming match. This is the Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia. We are here to uphold- democracy, and we can only do so while this Parliament retains the respect of the people. To-night we have discussed - a matter most vital to the Australianpeople, namely,- the defence of the country and whether a Commonwealth government planned to abandon a part of the country to the enemy. The reply to that question should not be made by a junior Minister. The Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) must answer it. The. late Prime Minister, Mr. Curtin, answered it on a previous occasion, and the records show that he was able to say, after an investigation, that no official document existed which revealed any plan that could be described as " the Brisbane line ". By the grace of God we avoided a terrible danger in World War II. Unless the habits of mankind change completely, we may face another war. The ' people can sustain a - war only if they have confidence in their government, and in the integrity of their elected representatives. A most serious charge has been levelled against a number of men, of whom I am one. I speak for my colleagues and myself when I state that not. one of us wish to evade or retreat from it. I now invite the Prime Minister, as my colleagues and I invited a former Prime Minister, to say whether he is in possession of a document which could sustain the charge of one of his Ministers that the Government of which I was a Minister. ever planned to abandon a part of this country to the enemy. If he is not in. possession of such a document, will he say whether such a document exists, or will he order an investigation and -from his place in this Parliament as did his predecessor either endorse or repudiate the statements of the Minister for Transport (Mr. Ward) ?

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